'Hold the Baby Close'

Article excerpt

Byline: Abby Haglage

Racing down nine flights with a newborn.

It was any NICU nurse's nightmare. A hurricane, a flooded basement, a failed generator: then, terrifyingly, 19 critically ill infants in a hospital without power. In one humbling image of the evacuation at New York University's Langone Medical Center--now ubiquitous--a team of medical professionals rushes a yellow stretcher with a nurse and small baby into an ambulance. Amid the unimaginable panic surrounding her, Margot Condon--holding him--is a picture of calm.

"Peaceful." That is how Con- don, a 36-year veteran of the neonatal intensive-care unit at NYU, remembers feeling.

As Hurricane Sandy barreled into New York City, sending gallons of water into the basement of Langone, the generators failed and with it, the power. As news of an impending evacuation spread, Condon and her team of nurses in the NICU banded together. "We just did what we always do--what nurses do--we took care of the babies. We kept them safe."

As medical students from across the city rushed in with flashlights to illuminate the darkness, Condon says the feeling of purpose, that they were doing something bigger than themselves, was tangible. "Everyone was just focused on keeping the babies safe, on getting them out in a calm manner--the positive in- tention, it was so strong," she says. …